We’ve always gone to Ukaria in the Adelaide Hill for an Adelaide Festival concert. I always enjoy it.
Ukaria was built to house beautiful performances.
The performance this year was called Dawn.
It was a stunning performance. The quartet was wonderful but the second piece a Beethoven for Violin and piano was simply amazing. The playing was so wonderful it is hard to describe. The room was spellbound and at the end stood and applauded.
We followed this with a visit to a park in Mt Barker to see the Disco Dogs. It would be better at night when the dogs are lit up but still fun in the day. Music is coming from the dogs and you can walk around and through them and dance along.
The park had a great Sunday afternoon vibe. Food vans picnicking families and beautiful weather.
A quick visit to niece Vashti and her family in nearby Balhannah rounded off the afternoon.
The first one at one of the many squares ( should they be called piazzas!) in Adelaide.
Called 80’s Ladies it probably would not be my first choice but my niece Vashti a professional Sax player was in the band for the show. and it was great.
It was a riot of fluro. See niece Vashti with her saxophone 🎷 in the background of the above photo. It was loud , fun, and our group were definitely the oldest in the crowd!
Somehow it was great fun. I sang along to 80’s songs like Working 9 to 5 and It’s Raining Men…… and we came out smiling.
The show finished ….. we sat outside having a Gin & Tonic looking at the trapeze artists then walked a few blocks to another Square – all lit up and in party mode.
We scrambled into the Speigeltent, found seats and settled in for Elephant Man the Musical. You probably remember the sad story of the Elephant Man. A movie starring John Hurt. Now thanks to a wonderful director – a local team – including musician husband & wife – it’s now a musical.
Complete with a ringmaster, beautiful nurse, evil Doctor, assorted musicians, actors and the sad elephant man we clapped and sang and shed a tear through the musical journey of the elephant man.
After thunderous applause we left the tent to meet the actors outside. My niece knew the music writers from her days of studying jazz at the uni.
This original Australian production is co-directed by the Olivier-award winning, Edinburgh and Adelaide Fringe veteran Guy Masterson alongside Christopher Mitchell. This gothic fairy tale retelling is as hysterical and heartwarming as it is heartbreaking. It’s going to Melbourne soon if you happen to live there.
We followed the next afternoon with a visit to the old Capri theatre complete with art deco foyer, velvet chairs and old style organ. It’s gorgeous and if I lived here I’d be on the volunteers list and work here. We saw the new Fisherman’s Friends movie. A great fun viewing.
We could go to shows morning, noon and night. It’s a feast here during Festival time. You should try and come one year.
My last post for this trip is about another train journey. This time a step back in time.
In 1878, construction commenced on the Port Augusta and Government Gums Railway. The line was extended to Oodnadatta in 1891 and further to Alice Springs in 1929, establishing an important rail link to Central Australia.
The famous Ghan passenger train travelled this way from 1923 to 1956, and on the northern part of this route until 1980. Such a pity the Ghan doesn’t stop here now ut would be a great place to break the journey.
This historic train bring back the romance of train travel, as it was in its heyday a century ago. The name “Pichi Richi” came from the section of track between Port Augusta and Quorn, through the Pichi Richi Pass, which was first opened back in 1879.
During the war years this was a major junction for trains carrying troops. At one point 43 trains came through a day. The local women would feed the men in the local hall during a break in the trip. Quorn would have been a bustling town.
So the train is old. Today it is run entirely by volunteers. And what a variety of train enthusiasts offer their services to keep this historic train ride operating.
David, one such enthusiast met us at our assigned carriage to clip our ticket and welcome us aboard.
We settled into our bench seats with other train buffs on this sellout Sunday morning short run through the Pichi Richi pass to Woolshed Flats.
David gave us a run down on the train and it’s history, speaking faster than the train was moving !
He told us that the carriage we were in named Warana was the one Mel Gibson sat in for the scene for the movie Gallipoli.
Many movies have used Quorn and this train in their scenes. Gallipoli, The Shiralee, The Water Diviner, Wolf Creek, Sundowners, The Tourist, to name just a few.
It’s such a popular attraction people stop their cars by the side of the road to watch & wave to those on board. Today with the marathon on with runners having started in Port Augusta it was extra busy.
We moved through the countryside through the pass and arrived at Woolshed Flat. Here you disembark and have morning tea while the engine is detached and moved around, in a move to then put it at the front of the train. Great to watch.
We spent half an hour chatting to other train buffs watching the engine manoeuvres. Our driver, an 82 year old man is assisted by his son and his 18 year old grandson who shovelled the coal. Trains run in the family.
David welcomed us back on board for the return journey. Our fellow passengers had bonded over the journey. There were four sisters away for a weekend who were joking, laughing and having a ball. A few caravaners on holidays and a family with two little children. The two year old boy was hooked. He loved this Thomas the Tank engine experience.
If you are in this area do yourself a favour and do a Pichi Richi train trip. At $61 it was a great experience and the money goes directly to its maintenance.
Leaving Wilpena wanting more is a sign we have enjoyed our visit. I’d like to do some more of the walks.
We stopped at a few more lookouts with the view changing each time and always magnificent.
The drive back out to Hawker was quite different to the drive in few days ago. The morning light is so different on the hills surrounding us to the light in the afternoon.
A coffee stop at Hawker was a surprise. There is a big café opposite the information centre. It’s has the best coffee, quandong pies , meals and more. Well worth a visit. The cafe staff, Sev and Kads, itinerant workers from Wollongong were helpful and chatty about this great cafe.
Quorn is only an hour away along the straightest road – looking out at flat land. Years ago this proved too hard to grow anything on so there were a number of abandoned brick houses left by disappointed farmers.
Arriving in time for a heritage building walk it was interesting and sad. So many lovely old buildings many empty but almost in need of repair.
Quorn has a lot to offer and it would be good to see a bigger industry bring people to town to live and work. At the moment it is the Pichi Richi steam train that brings visitors to town. We’re going on it tomorrow.
I’m surprised the town looks so quiet. Not many people around today. There’s a marathon here tomorrow. It starts in Port Augusta. There will be lots of people around then. Accommodation was booked out, so we’re staying at a cabin about 10 mins from town. We tried to book at one of the hotels for dinner but had to go to the other hotel, The Austral. Bonus there is karaoke on.
Our little cabin at Pichi Richi Park is basic but comfortable and there’s a heater! We sat looking at the view reading the papers before heading back into town for silo light show.
What is a Silo Art show? Most country towns have large grain silos. They are like a big blank canvas. It’s been a trend in Australia for the silos to be painted. These Silos are heritage listed so can’t be painted So they project images onto the silos at sunset each night.
We arrived as the sun was setting. Tuned our radio to the station suggested for the audio and sat in our car and watched. It’s like being at the drive in movies.
We got our quandong ( a local treat) gin and tonic set up and sat back and enjoyed the show.
In fact they should show movies here. Perfect screen. The light show consisted of various different segments outlining the features and activities of a Quorn. a section on the food, the attractions, The indigenous history.
The streets were quiet except for those heading to the two hotels for dinner. It wasn’t quiet in the Austral Hotel. We sat near a big group of Marathon runners. The good part is they weren’t drinking much and finished early. But they were friendly and fun!
The runners head off for bed and then the karaoke started. It’s always funny to watch this entertainment. Ordinary people get up and have a go . Good on them. But really. The choice of songs could be better for some!!!
Marg and I were not going to do it but it wasn’t long before we felt we could do better than most! But we’d resisted and ended up singing all the way back to our cabin.
Two chilly days in Adelaide and we were ready for a little more adventure.
We thought a few days in Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges would be a perfect end to our Australian adventure.
Known for it ancient mountains, spectacular gorges and sheltered creeks Ikara National Park is one of the most spectacular parks in Australia. And there is a lot of competition!
All of this only 5 hours drive from Adelaide.
We set off early Thursday as we planned on visiting friends Kathy & Mark in the Clare Valley. They are house sitting – a new and rewarding experience since retiring.
On the way we stopped at Balaklava and lovely small town.
We drove through the vines of Clare and arrived at their house for the next few weeks. It’s charming & just outside the village of Clare. They look after ducks, chickens and dorper sheep. And are living in the comfortable old farm house.
House sitting is a great way to explore new areas – living rent free. Though it’s good if you like animals.
We headed off after lunch and headed west. We passed a few more little towns but couldn’t stop. We wanted to get to Wilpena before sundown.
This resort is joint owned b the SA Gov and the local Adnyamathanha Aboriginal people. They call the pound “Ikara” meaning “meeting place” or “place for initiations”.
We settled into our family room, had a glass of wine and planned our day tomorrow.
Dinner was soup in the restaurant which is part of the main resort building – built in 1947. it resembles a ski lodge!
We’re looking forward to exploring this area tomorrow. Driving in we were in awe of the beautiful mountains.
A late night in Kalgoorlie led to an early start in Rawlinna.
Clickity clack Clickity clack. Our train clicked away during the night. It’s funny how during the day it seems so calm and the night time turns the train into a Rockin’ rollin’ adventure.
The sunrise over Rawlinna was gorgeous. Soft light makes the deserted town beautiful.
We were off the train by 6.30am. It was cold!
The only sign of life on the deserted platform was a horse. He stood patiently letting us pat him as our entertainer set up then played country & western.
We drank hot tea and ate bacon egg rolls as we sang along and wondered why we had got out of a cosy bed! But how could you miss this little piece of the Australian outback. Very special.
The more energetic of us stretched our legs walking along the deserted dirt road of this huge sheep station. I was hoping someone could fill us in on details about this sheep station on the edge of the Nullarbor. I have since found out it is more than 2.5 mil acres in size with 65,000 sheep!
Today it was us and a horse at the railway station.
Back on board we dived back under the doona as the sun came through the window.
Lunchtime came and gave us a chance to chat to our fellow travellers and make some connections. Cath thought she knew me but her husband said she thinks she knows everyone.
A second stop at Cook. This place has a population of 4. There are a few houses there which get used by railway works from time to time. Someone has a good sense of humour. There were signs around the empty town including one our side as male and female jail. In between was the musical ‘jailhouse rock’.
Miranda said I reminded her of her mum who, like me, loves a red lipstick! Miranda is a nurse from Manchester who despite 20 years of living in Perth still has a strong accent. She’s talkative and funny – the kind of nurse who would keep you entertained but take no nonsense!
More cards in the afternoon before cocktail hour! Today I had a margarita and was surprised that Jill, who only ever has one half strength coffee a day, had an expresso martini. It had two full shots of coffee and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Jill was later seen dancing on tables!!!!
It was our last night together on holidays and we were celebrating our great trip. If you’ve missed out please go back and read the earlier blogs on the Gibb River Road.
We have travelled over 4,300 kilometres. Over dusty roads, had several boat trips, swum in at least 8 gorges and in the ocean 7 times, waded in a tunnel creek, had two light plane trips, one epic train trip, enjoyed wine, beer and cocktails. Eaten too many chips! Had lots of laughs and card games and really enjoyed our travel buddies Chris & Jill.
Dinner was delicious. Lamb shanks! No chips. Beautiful Moss Wood wine and lots of chat.
A great cickity clack sleep and an early arrival in Adelaide. Our lively lovely crew including Layla, Georgia. Nick ….. farewelled us. It’s been great.
We have a few days with Steve’s sister before heading off to Wilpena Pound – a little sight seeing and a ride on the Pichi Richi rail journey in Quorn.
Keep following readers…… Wilpena is known as the jewel in the Flinders Rangers
Pick up from our hotel in Fremantle is part of the Platinium service for the Indian Pacific. We are being spoiled on this trip! So naturally we’ve been looking forward to this train journey for quite some time.
We arrive at East Perth Station and are checked in with Layla a lovely young girl wearing an Akubra hat. We are in carriage I, cabin 4.
It’s 9 a.m. when we board the train and the Bollinger has been popped. People start to smile. The service team introduce themselves and the guests start to chat. It may be expensive but the treatment is first class.
Our cabin is small but perfectly laid out. Our comfy seats face the way the train will be going and every little convenience has been included.
It’s not long before it lunch time. the food is lovely.
Of course lunch was a accompanied by another Bollinger or two. This was followed by a nap!
We met some fellow travellers. Miranda and Gavin from Perth are on board celebrating a birthday. They are lowering the average age and look like fun – enjoy a drink and a chat!
Val & Jim from Melbourne are lovely and we swapped lots of stories. There are other keen train enthusiasts who are on their 2nd, 3rd and even 4th journey – the Ghan north to south and the Indian Pacific east to west !
Some are travelling Premium because they no longer like climbing up to a bunk style bed. I can identify with that feeling.
Card playing had become our afternoon or evening activity and it has continued. Today we multi-tasked! There was a trivia competition hosted by the resident guitar-playing entertainer. We played cards, played trivia and drank Bollinger.
Tonight after dinner we arrived into Kalgoorlie around 9 p.m. We left the warmth of the train for a tour of cool Kalgoorlie with Katherine.
She drove through the dark streets pointing out sights we couldn’t see. She told us stories and used the word ‘actually ‘ more times than necessary. She’d had a long day and sounded exhausted. We were all thinking our Katherine needed to be home in bed.
First stop was a yard housing a small museum and theatre where two locals put on a play about the discovery of gold by Paddy and Tom. Unfortunately it needed a better script & better actors.
Next stop was the giant pit. We went to a viewing platform but with few lights on it was hard to see anything. The photos told the story of a pit that is 5 km long, 2 km wide and 1 km deep.
The whole tour was ‘actually’ underwhelming. It would have been more effective to have an audio on the bus. We should have listened to fellow travellers Miranda and Gavin who were staying on the train in their cabin with a glass of wine and a Netflix movie.
Couldn’t wait to get back to the train, have a warm shower and tumble into bed.
Our stay in Fremantle was supposed to be warm. Was supposed to be spent with a ferry trip to Rottnest Island. A little swim.
Weather has a way of changing things around. The ferry service is cancelled so we changed our plans.
Friday night we went to Nedlands for dinner with some old friends of Chris and Jill. We had a great night and some lovely soup. Not a chip in sight.
Saturday morning called for a sleep in. Our hotel – The Esplanade – is large and old and right near the old town on one side , the park and marina on the other.
We made our way, in the unaccustomed cool breeze, to the Moore and Moore Art space and cafe. There was a good watercolour exhibition on where we spent a few minutes before ordering breakfast.
It was the first cooked breakfast we’ve had so we all enjoyed tucking into eggs.
The streets are old and lined with lovely shops and cafes. Lots of bookshops and quirky shops like a map shop – where we lost Steve but all ended up enjoying. A gentleman’s shop with shoes and other accoutrements. A few galleries and our planned stop – the Palace Cinema.
Funny to go to the cinema on holidays but we thought it could be raining all day! We saw Maigret – about the French detective. It was slow and mysterious.
Coming out an hour or so later the skies were blue and the wind was blowing. We went browsing a little more and managed to do a little retail therapy. The streets had a Saturday buzz about them.
We saw the markets. It’s always good to walk through markets. These aren’t as big or colourful as the Adelaide Markets but it’s a good way to pass the time under cover while the rain poured outside.
Chris and Jill’s friends arrived at the hotel for afternoon tea. Sitting in the foyer is a good place to see people – both local and tourists. There was a Year 11 formal on so the young students were posing for photos, the boys looking dapper and the girls looking much older than their age – in beautiful long dresses.
Feeling a little peckish we headed up Essex St. to Nuncio. It’s a lovely Italian restaurant serving very good Italian food. The best Carnarvon scallops, prosciutto and pasta dishes.
I’d been told about Darling Darling – a whiskey bar nearby, so we braved the now very strong gusty winds and made our way past shops and restaurants.
Sadly there was a line to get in! We don’t do lines so back to our hotel for a nightcap. We have to reorganise our bags for tomorrows Indian Pacific journey.
Pity about the late night party in the room adjacent to ours where the group of people gathered on their verandah at around midnight and proceeded to party hard.
Not good for sleeping……. so I made a call to reception! It took awhile but they eventually settled down.
I have made packing up after each stop easy . The secret is not too many clothes and keep everything handy on the top of the bag in the same position!
Our last day on the Gibb River Rd and we want to fit as much in as possible.
Talking to other travellers we decided we must detour and visit Windjana Gorge to see the crocodiles and to Dimalurru to visit Tunnel Creek.
Breakfast included making a simple sandwich for lunch as there is nothing between here and Derby. Not a shop or petrol station. Nothing.
As we are packing the car I got chatting to a lady filling her water containers. We compare trips and I told her we are disappointed to be missing our house boat stay at Horizontal Falls because of the jet boat accident.
She shocked me by telling me they were there and her husband was on the boat.
She went on to describe the horrific scene as the boat with many injured people limited back to the pontoon. Many women with fractures in their lower limbs. It sounded awful. No wonder they are not ready to reopen. The staff are all traumatised and needing time off.
We are thankful it wasn’t us on board & the woman I spoke with was always very grateful she didn’t want a jet boat experience that morning.
So off we went – an hour drive back to the Gibb Rd turned toward Derby and the half an hour later turned left to Windjana.
The park is beautiful. The limestone walls so impressive.
The approach to the Gorge is through a small tunnel of limestone walls. it’s like entering a magical world.
Out the other side and a peaceful walk along the river bank keeping an eye on the opposite bank. The crocodiles are lazing and sunning themselves. Lots of them.
We walked along for about 15 mins. Such beautiful scenes.
Next stop Tunnel Creek. This place I remember being talked about because of a boy called Jandamarra. He was with his mob when they were captured. He escaped into the tunnel where the creek flows under the limestone hills. It was written as a children’s book years ago.
To get to the tunnels you need to climb and clamber over rocks. They are the most amazing colours: pinks, grey, blue even a greenish look.
Then a wade through water into the tunnels. Quite creepy. We looked out for the red eyes of the resident croc.
Lunch was a simple sandwich outside under the trees. We are so lucky with the weather warm but not too hot.
From here it was a short but fairly boring straight drive into Derby. We were told that it’s not the most exciting place to be and to be sure to lock up well. Didn’t sound too good!
We arrived in time to see the town in the afternoon light. Everything looks good bathed in a glowing sky. Then to our hotel the Derby Lodge. Not a lot of good things to say about this hotel. Except pretty ordinary.
We crossed the road to the Spinifex Hotel for dinner and made an early night of it. It was a big day of driving.
In the morning we walked to the local CWA markets, an oasis and spent a very happy hour. Such nice people and the Boab nut coffee was great as were the donuts and the home made slices.
There was music provided by the Rusty Nails, and sitting under the shade of a tree chatting to other travellers was as usual very interesting.
We walked back to get the car and of course we two retired children librarians popped into the library .
We’d been told to visit Norval Gallery and we are so glad we did. What an interesting story behind Mark Norval the owner. He and wife Mary went to Derby as young teachers and never left. He now has this wonderful art space where local aboriginal people are welcome to come and paint. He travelled to many of the communities along the Gibb River area and taught painting and encouraged painting and it’s really taken off. There are some wonderful people doing great work. Edna Dale and her daughter Petrina Bedord. I bought one I couldn’t resist.
We spent a long time chatting to Mark about his life & work in Derby. He is so kind. So understanding of the problems facing the indigenous youth.
He has mentored Edna Dale mother of 7 and her daughter Petrina an up and coming contemporary indigenous artist. Her grandfathers Jack Dale and Paddy Bedford were famous in their field of art. Watch out for her. She paints in a style to reflect stories of Windjana passed down to her.
Petrina was painting in the art shed while we were there. Lovely to watch.
We also bought some decorated boab seed pods – such beautiful work.
We left the gallery and continued on our way to the prison Boab tree. A very sad story about indigenous peoples imprisoned in the tree.
Onto Broome. We have an extra night here as our planned night in a houseboat at Horizontal Falls was cancelled.
Sunsets are spoken about here more than anywhere else – except maybe Santorini! So we set out to find it. After checking into the Oaks at Cable Beach we drove along the coast to the port.
Broome is also famous for its dinosaur footprints. We went dinosaur hunting. It took us to Roebuck Bay.
We decided to head to the fishing club for a sundowner. It not well known to tourists. It’s where the locals head. I’d read about it and it turned out to be perfect. Casual and a beautiful setting. One glass of Prosecco led to another led to fish and chips.